teresa's blogJuly 8, 2008
If you thought the pimientos you ordered in New York or Madrid this winter were good, belly up for another round pronto. What you get, especially if you happen to be in Galicia, in the northwest corner of Spain, will put those wimpy winter peppers to shame. Midsummer is the season for the intensely flavorful, rarely spicy Pimiento de Padrón.
The polyester patchwork jacket on their man at the front of the house says it all: "this place is so cool it hurts."
As you drive into La Bisbal d'Empordà, your romantic image of what a historic pottery-making town ought to look like (quaint cottage workshops complete with artisans at the wheel) takes a withering blow. The place is dusty, for one thing -- sitting on a great big expanse of clay since the dawn of time will do that do a town. But take it slow here and you will find enough artisanal pottery and good eats to make you forget the scruffiness and want to come back for more.
Barcelona chefs Jordi Butrón and Xano Saguer caused a commotion when they opened their restaurant, Espai Sucre back in 2000. This was before New York City's Chickalicious and other experiments in dessert-only menus were on the scene. They came out swinging with philosophical fervor about pastry chefs being chefs, not just twinkie-headed extras. Desserts, they argued, needn't always be sugary afterthoughts. And now, with a little forethought, visitors to Barcelona can get a taste of their techniques .
Getting to the Penedés wine country from Barcelona is as easy as last week's New York Times travel section article ("Catalonia's 'Champagne' Country") makes it sound. About an hour's drive gets you to the big-volume producers travel writer Sarah Wildman mentions. What she doesn't offer a clue about is that another half hour and a good map will take you away from the "Disneyesque" Cava touring she describes.
I have craved this salad off and on since my friend Juani's mother from Granada made it for a winter picnic ten years ago. We set ourselves up in a clearing just above the town of Rupit (in the province of Barcelona, all cobblestones and 16th century stone houses built into steep rocky hills -- worth a visit). It was Christmas day, so the air was cool but the sun was bright and somehow that combination of warmth and refreshment seemed perfectly expressed in what we were eating: juicy oranges, salty cod, tart green olives, a little heat from a red onion, a touch of richness from a hard boiled egg.
They say it's spring but it's cold out and my head is stuffed up and I'm convinced the only cure is the rosemary soup Inés Puigdevall makes at her beautiful casa rural, Mas Garganta, near Olot. I guarantee this soup will lift you out of almost any kind of slump.
In this lead-up to Easter Sunday, pastry chefs in Catalonia and Valencia are tempering chocolate like mad and sculpting it into eggs and other shapes to adorn the traditional Easter sweet, the mona de pascua.
Murray's Cheese on Bleecker Street in New York City has found a new Manchego source and wants us stinky cheese lovers to give this cheese another chance.
If Valentine’s Day has caught you by surprise, just say you’re holding off until La Diada de Sant Jordi, April 23 – that’s the day love is celebrated in Catalonia. There’s no pressure to buy uncomfortable undergarments for the occasion either because to prove their love, the Catalans give one another books.